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Academia and conflict of interest

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  • Academia and conflict of interest

    In this case, Marco may be underestimating the efficiency of the Italian
    mail service; I received the newsletter today.

    I agree that these problems are important to discuss, and I find both
    Kit's cases and Marco's comments very relevant. A couple of additional

    Case 1: Perhaps Jennifer Jordan's mistake was registering at the wrong
    university. I personally think that pressure should be applied to
    institutions sticking to the principle that a thesis must contain only
    previously unpublished material at the time of its presentation to
    abandon this insistence that dumb luck has to be an important element in
    thesis work. The function of a thesis must be to show the student's
    ability to pusue original research, not his or her ability to foresee at
    the start of the process what will still be original work four or five
    years down the line. However, it is an important task for the supervisor
    to make certain that there is no very similar publication in the market
    when the study is started. In the case at hand I agree with Marco that
    Jennifer and her supervisor should be able to state with a clear
    conscience that there was no previous work that they could reasonably be
    supposed to know of at that stage. Then, of course, we all have to live
    with the fact that if someone alse beat us to the publication deadline,
    it will influence where and how we can publish our material. Besides, I
    have never come across a case of two identical studies so far...

    Case 2: Agree with Marco

    Case 3: I think the university should be proud to grant tenure to
    someone who can produce so much good work with only a limited grant from
    a shoe company. I do think that the reviewer should answer to her best
    ability to any questions on funding ability (which I assume would be in
    an assessment form).

    Case 4: This is a tough one! Fortunately, as in case 1 the situation
    does not arise often. In the event that Henk and his supervisor did not
    know about the other group already, why not try posting a question to
    Biomch-l as to whether anyone out there is working on this problem? It
    should be possible to come to an agreement with that group, at least as
    soon as they get acceptance. Another good idea is of course returning
    the manuscript to Gait and Posture with enthusiastic comments (if
    deserved) immediately to speed up the process, rather than sitting on it
    a couple of months as many of us seem to do.

    I will see if I can make a distinct synopsis of another interesting
    ethical problem I came across recently.

    Best wishes to all


    Arne Lundberg, MD PhD
    Dept of Orthopaedics
    Karolinska Institute
    Stockholm, Sweden

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